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What exactly is micarta ?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by never2many, Nov 26, 2003.

  1. never2many


    Nov 17, 2003
    I have a knife with a micarta handle and it looks like a form of fiberglass to me. I don't know if it would fall in the carbon fiber family or G10. I have seen similar materal like micarta used in berings and bushings. Mostly in the form of washers and spacers. So does anybody know what micarta is? I know, I'm a real noob.

  2. Keith Montgomery

    Keith Montgomery

    May 9, 2000
    Micarta is not a fiberglass, it is a polymer, cotton cloth laminate. G-10 is a polymer, glass fiber laminate, which is a type of fiberglass. Carbon fiber is of course a polymer, carbon fiber laminate. All of these materials have a great deal in common. The difference being the material used in combination with the polymer.
  3. The Deacon

    The Deacon

    Apr 27, 2003
    The similarity between micarta, G10, and CF is that they all consist of a base material saturated with a resin. The differences are in both the base materials and the types of resin used. Micarta uses a variety of materials, usually either a form of paper or cloth (such as linen or canvas) and is saturated with a phenolic resin, then heat cured. G10 is one of a number of similar materials that use fiberglass as the base material and, I beleive, a chemically cured epoxy resin which hardens without heat. In the case of G10, I believe the fiberglass is in the form of woven cloth. CF, as the name implies uses carbon fibers as the base material and again, a chemically cured epoxy resin. Micarta is the "oldest" of the three, but it has its advantages in certain applications. For some reason it always feels warmer to the touch to me than either of the other two.
  4. Gollnick

    Gollnick Musical Director

    Mar 22, 1999
    Micarta is basically epoxy with some added material to give it strength. That material is often paper, cotton cloth, linen, or canvas. Basically, it's alternating layers of epoxy, and paper (or whatever). This layering gives it the appearance and character of "grain." The epoxy can be colored. And whatever other material is used can also be colored and of various different textures. Paper and linen micarta have very fine grain. Canvas micarta has a very rough grain and texture.

    Originally, Micarta was made by GE as an electrical insulator. Epoxy is an excellent insulator, but if you just make a sheet of epoxy, it's to brittle. Adding paper or cloth gives it strength. Later, craftsmen found that Micarta is easy to work with, impervious to moisture, strong, durable, chemical-resistant, and, if you polish it, quite attractive. So, somebody made a knife handle out of a piece of it and the rest -- as they say -- is history.
  5. Gollnick

    Gollnick Musical Director

    Mar 22, 1999
    G10 is fiberglass in an epoxy resin. It was also originally created by GE as an electrical insulator, specifically as a material for electrical circuit boards. Today, most circuit boards are made of FR4. FR4 is basically G10 but with a touch of bromine added. That makes it fire-resistant which is where the FR in FR4 comes from.

    Most of the G10 we see for knives is black. Circuit boards are often green. That's just the choice of dye added to the epoxy. Green is common for circuit boards because it contrasts well with a lot of electrical components thus facilitating automatic optical inspection (basically, a computer compares a picture of the board in question to a picture of a perfect board. If there's a missing part, wrong part, part on wrong, etc., it will probably result in a visual difference whicht the computer can catch). But, you can order FR4 in black if you want it. You can order G10 in green to.
  6. never2many


    Nov 17, 2003
    WOW..........you guys really know how to answer a question!! Two thumbs up, I have learned alot. How cool. :)

  7. lagarto


    Oct 26, 2001
    These guys have given you some great responses so far, but you might also try a search, I asked the same question about 3 months ago and got an awesome response, which was a link to a website that has more information than you'll ever need about it. I think the title was just Micarta, what is it? Good luck.
  8. Keith Montgomery

    Keith Montgomery

    May 9, 2000
    Chuck, thanks for pointing out the fact that there is also paper Micarta. One thing to mention though, all the other kinds of Micarta are cotton cloth. Linen and canvas Micarta are actually both cotton. Maybe once upon a time linen Micarta was made from linen, but that is not the case today. The only difference is in the coarseness of the fabric.

    When saying that Micarta, G-10 and carbon fiber use different epoxy or phenolic, this is correct, but not always the case. You can get cotton cloth epoxy or phenolic resin grades, you can get glass epoxy or phenolic resin grades and you can get carbon fiber epoxy or phenolic resin grades. G-10 is, as far as I know, only available as an epoxy resin galss fiber laminate. Micarta is normally a phenolic resin cotton cloth or paper laminate. I have seen carbon fiber laminates that are made with both epoxy and phenolic resin.
  9. CH


    Dec 10, 2000
  10. Gollnick

    Gollnick Musical Director

    Mar 22, 1999
    You are right! Westinghouse. I'm sorry. G10 was GE, though.
  11. 1 ADAM12

    1 ADAM12 Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 22, 2013
    That stuff should last forever without any kind of damage, from normal use anyway you would think, right?
  12. bikerdave47


    Feb 24, 2012
    a handle material!
  13. The Zieg

    The Zieg

    Jan 31, 2002
  14. Eric@DLT

    [email protected]

    Mar 30, 2015
    Right. Micartas are very durable and will hold up with normal use for a long, long time.
  15. Spyder59


    Dec 26, 2014
    I don't know but it's some tough sh&@t. [emoji41] I prefer it for scale material.
  16. marcinek


    Jan 9, 2007
    Was that first "somebody" Bob Loveless?
  17. sharp_edge

    sharp_edge Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 30, 2015
    OK so in a nutshell which is better / lasts longer, G10 or micarta?
  18. Bill1170


    Dec 20, 2007
    Better is entirely subjective. G-10 probably lasts longer, and is more dimensionally stable than canvas/phenolic micarta. This stability difference is why Spyderco uses G-10 but not micarta on their folders. The cellulosic fibers in micarta will change size with variations in moisture content. It's too bad, because I find micarta feels better in my hand than G-10 or CF.
  19. bdmicarta

    bdmicarta Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 16, 2012
    I thought I was micarta. :(

    Anyway I have been intrigued by the stuff since I first discovered it. The stuff is very versatile- in addition to coming in 3 different varieties, each one can be finished in different ways. I think it is a good material for knive handles/scales. I consider it to be a modern material even though it could be considered relatively old.

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